Up From Slavery

  • Study Guide

General Armstrong

Characters General Armstrong

General Samuel C. Armstrong is a veteran Union Army General who founds Hampton Institute and serves as its first principal. For Washington, he is a Christ-like figure. Washington even refers to him as “Christ-like.” General Armstrong embodies the ideals that Washington believes the black race needs to develop to advance itself in society. General Armstrong is kind, hardworking, and always willing to labor on the behalf of others. Above all, General Armstrong aims to be useful and to aid others in becoming more useful and happy themselves. In each scene in which Armstrong appears, he is described as faultless and worthy of imitation. An example of this is when Armstrong visits the tents of the students who volunteer to live outside due to the overcrowding of dormitories at the Hampton Institute. General Armstrong’s presence alone invigorated the boys and made them more hopeful. Other examples include General Armstrong’s generosity toward Washington when he cannot afford to settle his debts or pay his outstanding tuition at Hampton Institute, General Armstrong’s recommendation for Washington to serve as the new leader of the Tuskegee Institute, and finally, General Armstrong’s invitation to Washington to go on a Northern tour when the Tuskegee Institute falls into dire financial straits. In all respects, General Armstrong is a savior figure.